Stewart, Garrett. "Modern Hard Times: Chaplin and the Cinema of Self Reflection." Critical Inquiry 3 (1976): 295-314.
This article compares the film Modern Times to the Dickens' novel Hard Times both acting a social satires on the pressures and challenges people faced in specific conditions and times. The article mentions Chaplin's own personal life growing up in Britain may be one reason why these two authors are similar in subject nature of their works. They both were against the factory system. Chaplin learned of a true story of a workers going crazy after years working as part of an assembly line. Chaplin's character during the factory sequence has becomed so accustomed to the 'bolt-tightening' behaviors, he literally cannot stop, even when he is forced away from the assembly line for disrupting the flow. Comical? Yes. However, it shows how dangerous this type of work can be on the psyche.
This article is important to my thesis because it specifically demonstrates how Chaplin critiques industrialization in his film scenes. "Charlie as robotized victim of the machine extends this into a frontal assault on industrialization" (Stewart 297-298). Chaplin attacks industrialization by showing that workers become robot-like in their work. This robotization extends from the workplace into the rest of their lives (and what little they have of it) creating a homogenized society. The articles also discusses why Chaplin may have this critique of industrialization and the homogenized society. The article also mentions that Chaplin's personal reasons may be an implication as to why he createad the film. A story that he heard or workers in Detriot becoming 'nervous wrecks' after years at the mercy of large machines in factories. These workers had been functioning individuals with unique personalities. But after years at the mercy of the assembly line system, they became roboticized to perform, eventually forcing them to break down.
The article discusses Charles Chaplin's film Modern Times (1936) and how it is related to Charles Dickens' novel Hard Times (1854). It says that both the film and the book are social satires of the new social system brought on by industrialization through technological advancement. It is important to realize that much of Chaplin's own life before moving to the United States resembles that of a Dickens's novel. Being a poor vaudevillian actor from Britain, the subject matter was very well understood by Chaplin and was very easy for him to make a film out of. The film is clearly against the factory system and agrees with the novel by showing a poor man having to work in such a system and ultimately being beaten by it. Both works are also are similar in the fact that their creators were British and yet decided to place their stories in the United States.
The article is relevant to the thesis because it discusses how the film Modern Times is used to portray the factory system. The work agrees with the thesis because it states that the film criticizes the system and works to show industrialized advances due to technology as a bad thing for the common worker. The film focuses on a lower class factory laborer and shows how the system is a burden on the common man and how such a system ultimately leads to many problems for him. Chaplin being critical of many social systems, especially because he had to grow up poor in such systems always portrays characters from the point of view of the down trodden. Chaplin makes his argument against the factory system by comparing it to a natural system. Within the film Chaplin's character is shown going through more than one labor system as a way to show which ones he agreed with. His movement is very unnatural and sporadic while in the factory, but is very smooth when working as a security guard. Chaplin believed that technological advancement was evil and made sure to make this known in Modern Times as well as in other works. It is important to realize that in the 1930's the Great Depression was extremely difficult for the laboring class. This truth is portrayed in the film by showing Chaplin's character suffer through many jobs and situations and ultimately getting nowhere.